It seems inevitable, like death and taxes. Every year, storage vendors renew their portfolios, delivering significant changes if not complete redesigns of critical product lines. This week almost simultaneous major announcements from EMC-Dell, LSI Logic-IBM, and NetApp follow similar chest-thumping from Hitachi Data Systems, Hewlett-Packard, and Sun.
Why did I pair up EMC and Dell, and LSI Logic and IBM? Because each name on the right side of the dash sign is a major OEM of the one on the left, so although the name may be different the pair is essentially announcing the same new product. And IBM will probably resell NetApp's new products, too. Confused yet?
Let's dig in, starting in alphabetical order. The EMC-Dell duo is announcing a new Clariion line, dubbed CX3 UltraScale Series, that extends beyond the capacity and performance of older versions. (The "3" stands for "third generation," in case you missed that).
CX3 includes three models -- the CX3-20, CX3-40, and CX3-80 -- with capacity ranging from 365GB to 239TB. EMC suggests that a CX3-80 about doubles the performance of the older CX700.
All of the CX3 boxes replace PCI-X with better-performing PCI-Express connectivity. In addition, the arrays support both 4Gbps and 2Gbps FC (Fibre Channel) drives and can move data between virtual LUNs (logical unit numbers) without disrupting applications.
Another interesting new feature of the CX3 line is that customers will be able to replace faulty components without the help of an engineer, which should shorten repair time when something goes wrong. Moreover, starting in Q3, customers will be able to manage new installs and updates independently. The new models, which you can also buy from Dell, start at $27,000 for an entry-level CX3-20.
Moving on to LSI Logic and IBM. LSI is introducing three new arrays: the 3992, 3994, and 6994, which can mount 16 4Gbps FC drives in a 3U enclosure. Adding expansion modules brings up their capacity even higher, ranging from 5TB to 100TB.
If you need more than the 112 drives that the 3992/4 can host, you can perform a nondisrupting migration to the larger 6994, which will open up to 224 drives. Performance gain could be another reason to migrate because the 6994 can sustain twice the IOPS of the 3992.
The modular architecture of the three LSI Logic arrays allow you to use the same enclosure for both controller and expansion modules, which is a welcome manufacturing simplification for its OEMs (IBM comes to mind immediately). Speaking of which, the System Storage DS4700 Express arrays that IBM announced this week are based on the LSI Logic 3992/4 and start just below $20,000.
Now NetApp. First, allow me to explain that these announcements are not necessarily targeting the same market. Whereas NetApp is attacking (and that's not hyperbole) the higher tier, where the company had no products before, the other vendors I've mentioned are hoping to grab more midtier market share by beefing up capacity and performance of their arrays. It's an interesting fight, with punches flying both low and high.